Entries into the 2021 NZ Events Association (NZEA) New Zealand Event Awards closed in June with an all-time record of 108 entries.
Ségolène de Fontenay General Manager of NZEA says the record numbers this year are remarkable given the impacts of COVID-19 during the qualifying period.
“Traditionally, the purpose of the awards has been to recognise excellence, promote best practice and creativity, raise awareness of the events sector and celebrate the contribution of the industry,” says de Fontenay.
“But this year we also needed to recognise the resilience, flexibility and responsiveness of the industry under the trying circumstances and uncertainty of the global COVID-19 pandemic.”
Of the five new categories introduced this year, de Fontenay says the ‘Best COVID Response for an Event 2021’ category proved the most popular, representing over almost a quarter of all entries.
“The Awards campaign has grown year on year for the past three years, but we’re blown away by how many have entered this year, despite the difficulties they’ve faced.”
The 2021 Awards welcomed entries for events that took place between 2 September 2019 and 5 April 2021 (a period of 19 months). The winners will be announced at the Gala Evening at the Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre in Hastings on Thursday, 30 September. Host Region Partner Hawke’s Bay is hosting the Gala Evening, and it promises to be a great night out to celebrate excellence, innovation, resilience and evolution in New Zealand’s world-class events industry.
Hastings District Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says it is an honour to host the industry at Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre.
“Toitoi is the perfect setting to host an evening that celebrates the best of the best, and looks ahead to the bright future of events in New Zealand,” says Mayor Hazlehurst.
“We are proud to be hosting the awards at a time when the industry is celebrating those who have got them through what have been very challenging times. Events are a crucial part of any community, particularly during times when morale needs to be lifted. We are pleased to be welcoming those who contribute so much to the industry and their communities to Toitoi,” she says.
The Awards benefit the New Zealand events industry in many ways. It adds credibility and status, showcases industry best practises, inspires and motivates others, and encourages continuous development, says de Fontenay.
“We do this by judging events on the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’, and we love hearing the inspiring stories of resilience from our sector.” Due to the record number of entries, the judging panel was expanded slightly this year and de Fontenay says this meant the panel of 20 judges was even more representative of the industry.
“The judges were particularly impressed with the quality of entrants this year and felt that once applicants had again raised the bar in creativity, innovation, adaptability, professionalism and sustainability.
“One of the judges commented that the Awards will, in some ways, be a celebration of success in the face of adversity,” adds de Fontenay. “Not all the entries were for events that took place after March 2020 but for those that did, it required a particular combination of courage and dexterity.”
For a list of finalists, click here.